God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Day 4: 20th April 2011

The first Round Table of the expedition:  The German Consul General in San Francisco, Mr Peter Rothen, has invited high profile professionals from different walks to discuss the situation of HIV and AIDS in San Francisco and the world. Amongst them Mrs Cecila Chung, who is leading the local commission for human rights, Mrs Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, representing the leading local San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Mrs Elisabeth Geoffroy, program manager and evaluation officer of the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance and Dr. Stephen F Morin from the Centre for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California. An additional guest was Dr Bernhard Hunke, Director of the Volkswagen Electronic Research Lab of Volkswagen in Silicon Valley as the representative of the major sponsor of the expedition, as well as various representatives of the media.

Joachim Franz talks about the expedition, Stefan Hippler is the moderator of the Round Table’s discussion.  The discussion focuses on the local AIDS situation, but also specific questions around stigma, the taboo around sex education, the connection between HIV and drug and alcohol abuse, the question of resistance and cure, the “Berlin Patient” and the learning curve and connections between different situations like the USA and South Africa. A final report at the end of the expedition will present all results of the Round Tables.

After the meeting the team spent some time to document the visit for the media, conquering some of the steeper streets of San Francisco. Tourists gathered to photograph our vehicles and we used the chance to answer questions about the Amarok, not known yet in the USA, and about our tour and the awareness of HIV and AIDS. So many flyers were given out that the question remains whether we have enough for the rest of the tour.

After the rush of photographers, well-wishers and tourists, we had to leave this beautiful town in the rush hour, added by the closure of streets due to the visit of President Barak Obama, which made it a painstaking exercise. Unfortunately we had not budgeted time and money for the Presidents Fundraising Dinner – but nice to know that he was in town too…

Till sunset the sun of California accompanied us on our trip to the South, and we made it till Los Angeles, where we could catch a couple of hours sleep on a parking ground, before moving on again.

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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